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Contact [Hardcover]

Carl Sagan
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (266 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 1985
Pulitzer Prize-winner Carl Sagan imagines the greatest adventure of all... the discovery of an advanced civilization in the depths of space. December, 1999, a multinational team journeys out to the stars, to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who-- or what-- is out there? In Cosmos, Carl Sagan explained the universe. In Contact, he predict its future-- and our own.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Amazon

It is December 1999, the dawn of the millennium, and a team of international scientists is poised for the most fantastic adventure in human history. After years of scanning the galaxy for signs of somebody or something else, this team believes they've found a message from an intelligent source--and they travel deep into space to meet it. Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Sagan injects Contact, his prophetic adventure story, with scientific details that make it utterly believable. It is a Cold War era novel that parlays the nuclear paranoia of the time into exquisitely wrought tension among the various countries involved. Sagan meditates on science, religion, and government--the elements that define society--and looks to their impact on and role in the future. His ability to pack an exciting read with such rich content is an unusual talent that makes Contact a modern sci-fi classic. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Who could be better qualified than the author of the highly successful Cosmos to turn the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence, and humankind's first contact with it, into imaginative reality? This is precisely what Sagan does in this eagerly awaited and, as it turns out, engrossing first novel. The basic plot is very simple. A worldwide system of radio telescopes, in the charge of brilliant astrophysicist Ellie Arroway, picks up a "Message" from outer space. Ellie is instrumental in decoding the message and building the "Machine" for which it gives instructions (despite stiff opposition from religious fundamentalists and those scientists and politicians who fear it may be a Trojan Horse). Then she and fellow members of a small multinational team board the machine, take a startling trip into outer spaceand on their return must convince the scientific community that they are not the perpetrators of a hoax. Sagan's characters, mostly scientists, are credible without being memorable, and he supplies a love interest that is less than compelling. However, his informed and dramatically enacted speculations into the mysteries of the universe, taken to the point where science and religion touch, make his story an exciting intellectual adventure and science fiction of a high order. First serial to Discover Magazine; BOMC selection. Foreign rights: S & S. October 1
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truely deeply terrific April 25 2003
Format:Audio Cassette
Carl Sagan was a wonder and this abridged audio version of Contact is the only version I've ever gone through. I saw the film, but never read any of his other books. I've since ordered them all. Amazing.
Wow. I literally didn't want to get out of my car. As good as Jodie Foster was in the film, her audio read was remarkable. She really is as good as they get on screen and in my car stereo. Her talent was to convey the wonder of the book and make me care about the issues and she really delivers.
If you are thinking about buying this, you won't regret it. The only regret you may feel is that Carl is now gone and there won't be any more of his wonderfully educating stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of My All-Time Favorite Sci-Fi Books April 30 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I would never have guessed that Sagan, a hardheaded, agnostic, scientific type would have in him a book with such a fine sense of character development and emotional pitch. Having read many of his nonfiction books, I was not surprised by the social and religious commentary, which I found to be both perceptive and very even-handed.
The science was interesting -- particularly the mode of travel described -- and I found the use of messages buried in irrational numbers to be an imaginative concept that I've never seen before. As a sci-fi story, I would compare this favorably with some of Arthur C. Clarke's best work, including "2001" and "Rendezvous With Rama," in terms of the scope and majesty of the universe he creates.
My only problem with the story, in fact, is that it is a little bit too derivative of Clarke; the space/dimensional traveling sequence seems to be imitative of "2001," and there are other similarities to Clarke novels, such as "Childhood's End," that were a little distracting (that's why, on a scale of 1-10, Contact would get a 9, rather than the full 10 rating). Nonetheless, I found this a very moving story that has more genuine feeling in it than almost any S-F story I've read.
This is a novel that is visionary and almost religious in its awe of the universe -- the movie was also enjoyable, but as is almost always the case, it can't capture the numinous feeling that the book has, despite a great performance from Jodie Foster.
Don't let some of the religious nuts' reactions scare you away from this book -- it has more genuine spirituality in it than a whole room full of Baptists and 700 Club members.
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5.0 out of 5 stars versions, history April 29 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Let me start with a few key points about the book, the movie, and the original screen treatment which precedes both.
"Contact" (the film) is NOT an adaptation. Carl Sagan died in the midst of production, but up until that point, he was on the set working with actors, directors, and prior to that with writer James V. Hart every single day. Sagan and Druyan initially planned Contact as a film, but the idea was EXPANDED in the book. The book spans many, many years and has multiple perspectives. Although it would be possible to do the same with the medium of film (and in a select few instances, Zemeckis chooses this approach), it's a much riskier approach and, if you know your Contact history, not what Sagan and Druyan originally intended.
The main theme (as evidenced by its placement in the book's resolution) in the book is Ellie's isolation. As for science and religion, it's less about conflict and more about faith: Sagan notes (as others have, though less eloquently) that faith is no less necessary for science than for religion.
As for Ellie...brilliant! What's unique about Sagan's characterization of a woman in science is the exploration of her faults: her stubbornness, her self-absorption, her inability to truly connect, her own xenophobia...the list goes on. So few authors can present a character in a balanced manner without suggesting that she will somehow be punished for her humanity. In the end, the only judgment that comes to Ellie is her own--despite her self-absorption, Ellie has little sense of her SELF. All her confidence--all her strength--has roots that Ellie herself has been unwilling to recognize.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction as a Religious Experience April 23 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
CONTACT is a novel about the global reception of a message from space. Radio observatories around the world pick up the length-repeating signal and manage to piece the whole thing together. As the code is broken the signal is revealed to be visual. When put on a screen for the first time the scientists are treated to the image of Adolph Hitler. The images are from the German Olympics which were the subject of the first strong television signal broadcast.
Underneath the picture data is more hidden data. This is eventually deciphered to be the blueprints of a device. As the world reacts to almost indisputable proof that we are not alone the device is built and a team is assembled to test it.
Upon activation the scientists find themselves traveling at unimaginable speeds to a distant location. Each traveler is individually greeted in a form to make them comfortable. One is greeted by a deceased father. After glimpsing the almost miraculous peace of this civilization, the travelers return at the exact moment they departed and all of the records of the trip are blank. Everyone refuses to believe that there actually was a trip except the travelers themselves.
While CONTACT starts out on a firm scientific basis that is gripping and well written, I found the novel as a whole to be disappointing. What starts as good hard-core science fiction quickly transforms into the account of what can only be called a religious experience. At least one bookstore actually shelved the book in the religion section. While I personally have no problem accepting both science and religion I felt that this book did a poor job of joining or reconciling the two. Despite my objections to the plotting I will recommend the book as it is quite well written.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Interesting story from start to finish.
Published 1 month ago by amanda
1.0 out of 5 stars The film is better....and I didn't like the film.
Was totally disappointed with the book. Carl Sagan spends too much time on unimportant details (probably using it as filler)and very little on the main story. Read more
Published on May 13 2011 by peppe51
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Novel; Failed Political Point
"Contact" is the story of one Dr. Eleanor Arroway, a radio astronomer whose work is responsible for Earth's first contact with an extraterrestrial species. From the start, Dr. Read more
Published on July 8 2004 by Kurt M. Weber
5.0 out of 5 stars more than a novel
While taking care to keep the fantastical adventure scientifically sound, Sagan seems to have given into his didactic nature. Read more
Published on June 14 2004 by Veloci86
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book and Great Movie!
Sagan had the knack of getting his humanistic point of view out without being offensive to the general populace. Read more
Published on May 3 2004 by J. McAndrew
5.0 out of 5 stars Message from the Heaven? Message from God?
We meet Ellie Arroway as a child whose father dies. She marvels at the wonder of radio, notably the "clear mathematical precision of radio waves. Read more
Published on April 15 2004 by Ted Magnuson
4.0 out of 5 stars First Half: ok------Second Half: better!
The classic science fiction theme of humanities' first brush with alien intelligence occupies center stage in Sagan's adequate, but not artful, novel. Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2004 by "thejrl"
3.0 out of 5 stars very disimilar to the movie!
rating 3.5
I have to admit that I enjoyed the movie. I think it is a quite provactive work, from anything more than a simplistic analysis anyway. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2004 by Patrick Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest SF Novel ever written
If you haven't yet read this novel by Carl Sagan, then immediately PUT DOWN what you are doing and start reading one of the greatest books I've ever read. Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars both mind bending and moving
I have been a fan of the movie since it came out in 1997, but everyone who has read the book told me that it is far better than the film. And I agree. Read more
Published on Dec 17 2003
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